Candidate bio description
I am a 2014 call to the bar and the founder of Tailor Law Professional Corporation. I began my practice as a first year call and am familiar with the common challenges that lawyers in sole and small firm practice face. In my spare time, I server on the board of directors for Many Feathers, a non-profit which focuses on creating local community spaces focused on food security in urban and rural settings across Canada. I also enjoy mentoring the next generation of law students through the Women’s Legal Mentorship Program and as a guest speaker at the University of Ottawa’s Business of Law class.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
I was inspired to run after reading the Law Times article “Young Lawyers Face Challenges in Bencher Election”. The article highlighted for me that there is a generation of lawyers whose concerns are not being heard and addressed – a generation that I am a part of. I remember reading the article a few days before nominations closed and came to the conclusion that I should run. I am running for Bencher of the Law Society of Ontario because I want to bring a fresh perspective to how our profession is regulated and represent early-career lawyers in the Law Society’s elected leadership. Despite the vast number of new and recent calls in this profession, we are severely underrepresented within our governing body. The decisions made by the Law Society apply to us nonetheless. The regulation of the legal profession should reflect the demographics of the legal profession and the lawyers within it. I hope to champion initiatives that will support lawyers in sole and small firm practice, recent calls, younger lawyers and women.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
The challenges faced by sole proprietors and lawyers in small firms need to be addressed. The LSO needs to start helping and supporting its membership. In my mind, supporting sole proprietors and small firm lawyers is an access to justice issue. Lawyers in these practices are on the front line of rendering services to the public and face unique challenges – lack of support for taking parental leave; isolation from other lawyers who can provide precedents, guidance or a listening ear; financial pressures to keep their practices afloat due to non-payment by Legal Aid, continuously increasing licensing fees, clients who skip out on paying their legal bills because “lawyers make a lot of money”; safety and security concerns when disgruntled clients or opposing parties decide to take their frustrations out on you. The LSO needs to recognize that investing in initiatives that help its membership is investing in access to justice because it keeps us in business and providing services to the public. Actionable steps I would like to propose include: a. Expand the Parental Leave Assistance Program to support the retention of women within this profession b. Subsidized group insurance for disability, health and dental c. Fund our local law libraries and law associations
What would be your first priority upon election?
Advocating for younger lawyers and voice their concerns regarding articling, the LPP and the exorbitant cost of obtaining a legal education. The cost of legal education at existing Canadian law schools is at odds with the access to justice and the public interest mandate of our regulatory body. The Law Society has an obligation to regulate it. It is a problem that the Law Society can no longer ignore. Actionable steps I would like to propose include: a. Implementing financial incentives for lawyers to service underserviced areas (such as fee reduction or loan forgiveness if you practice in an underservices region - similar to doctors) b. Invest in expanding the Coaching and Advisor Network and developing formal mentorship programs that promotes the transfer of knowledge from senior practitioners to junior lawyers (substantive and practical advice) c. To the extent possible, advocate for practical legal education so that licensees are practice ready upon graduation and completion of licensing exams (i.e. Lakehead’s model where 3L is your practical year). I understand that this is a National Accreditation issue and the LSO does not have direct control over this but it is certainly a key stakeholder in this narrative.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
While championing for the initiatives I’ve outlined above, I hope to also make practicing law more affordable for members. We need to cut operational costs and reduce annual fees in order to practice. The Law Society needs to streamline operations by adopting modern technology. Our steadily increasing annual fees should not be considered an infinite revenue source for the Law Society. The goal is to streamline processes to obtain a leaner and more cost-effective Law Society by looking at annual revenues generated and reduction of associated costs.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
Delays in the justice system. The courts need to implement modern technology to facilitate access to justice including electronic scheduling of court dates and electronic court filings. The court also needs to simplify its procedures if making courts accessible to the public is the goal (such as implementing a unified family court across the province). While I understand that the LSO does not have direct control over this, it is an important stakeholder that can influence decisions regarding streamlining the court process.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
Absolutely. I think it is the least the LSO can do to address equity, diversity and inclusion issues within the profession. The controversy that the SOP has created demonstrates to me that we still have a long way to go.